Adbusters crowdsourcing to air ‘most powerful attack ad ever’

Canada Politics
Screen shot of Adbusters' attack ad

The Vancouver organization that helped launch the Occupy Wall Street movement is crowdsourcing funds to run an attack ad against Conservative Leader Stephen Harper during Canadian prime time.

The Adbusters Media Foundation has started an Indiegogo campaign to buy as much commercial airtime for a spot called Spitbomb.

The 50-second ad features quick edits of Canadian imagery like Terry Fox running and Mounties marching, mixed with shots of clearcuts and oilsands.

“I used to be proud of my country. We have come a long way together,” a voiceover says. “But lately we’ve been led astray. And the world now sees us for what we’ve become.”

The end shows a dramatization of a man coming up to a woman in an airport and spitting on her luggage, which has a Canadian flag.

“You used to be the good ones,” the snarling man says. It ends with the phrase: based on an actual incident.

Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn says the organization has already bought 11 spots, which will run the week before the Oct. 19 federal election, though he hopes the campaign will help Adbusters buy more time on CBC.

“If suddenly this thing takes off and captures the Canadian imagination, then we may also buy spots on other stations,” he told Yahoo Canada News. “For the moment we believe that airing it on The National with Peter Mansbridge would be the most powerful way to highlight what we’re doing.”

In an email, a CBC spokesman said the public broadcaster could accept the ad but not in its current form as it doesn’t have the required third-party wording and must be approved by the Television Bureau of Canada’s telecaster services.

The foundation had to register as a third party with Elections Canada in order to run the ad. It is in the process of being reviewed by the telecaster, which approves commercials, infomercials and public service announcements that run on Canadian media.

Adbusters has launched several notorious, worldwide campaigns in the past. Buy Nothing Day, an international day to protest consumerism, was started by the foundation 20 years ago.

It also played an integral part of fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began on Sept. 17, 2011, in New York’s Zuccotti Park and spread worldwide.

Adbusters had written about the launch of the movement in their magazine, six months before it began, and came up with the hashtag #occupywallstreet. It also designed a widely used poster featuring a ballerina on a bull.

So far, about $2,100 of the $25,000 has been raised for the attack ad campaign. Lasn says the ad is meant to contrast political attack ads, which he calls “predictable” and “slickly produced.”

“There’s something really profound about a citizen-produced attack ad, for groups outside the political parties to get involved in the political process,” he says. “This is a new way for the democratic process to work.”